On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, I began day-dreaming post lunch. On closing my eyes, I could see mountains with USA written in bold, similar to the Hollywood Sign situated on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains.
After being mesmerized by the magical & mighty mountains in India, I knew this was a sign to check out the mountains in USA. The mountains in India have welcomed me and instantly made me feel at home. Let us see what their counterparts in USA will offer.
It may have been a dream but you never know when it might come true! So I got down for some research.
How beautiful would it be to experience these wondrous and rugged beauties in the Mountain states of the USA. The Mountain States are split up into two regions known as the Northwest and Southwest. Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are considered part of the Northwest while Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah are considered part of the Southwest. After a bit of research my heart is set to visit the Mohawk and McDowell mountain ranges in Arizona which are known for their ski and summit points respectively. The sunset at McDowell and the snow at Mohawk look magical in pictures and it got me completely hooked to plan a trip.
Thus I began the quest to jot down key things to keep in mind while planning an international trip and zeroed down on the below.
- Visa: Upon researching, I figured that there are different visas for different purposes while travelling to USA. I am eligible to apply for the non-immigrant B-1/ B-2 visa which is for tourist travel purposes that has a validity period from 1 to 10 years and allows for either one or multiple entries into USA. The non-immigrant visas usually take minimum three weeks to process and even longer during peak season.
- Foreign Exchange: Well, this is the tough part as I am a little scared of anything to do with numbers. When it comes to foreign exchange I thought I will take help of an agent at an added commission. While researching I went to the Thomas Cook website and navigated the options available for Forex. With a hassle-free interface, I could get the forex of US Dollar to INR to get a sense of the monies that I will need to save up on for the dream to come true. I am glad that they have FAQS explaining lucidly the basic queries that I, a novice, had on documents required in case of a balance payment for Forex.
- Key festivals of the destination: Being a lover of finer things in life, I immediately searched for music, art and other such festivals in Arizona scheduled in 2016. Some festivals that immediately struck a chord with me are; OrigiNation– a two-day celebration of the cultures indigenous to the state, The Good Life Festival – musical performances by legendary bands, acts across all genres of music, cooking demos, craft beers tastings and shopping and The Arizona Community Short Film Festival – a celebration of indie, DIY filmmaking spirit.
4. Documentation – Key documents such as passport, visa, local map print outs, airline tickets, hotel confirmation receipt, emergency contact numbers, Indian Embassy number, travel insurance docs will be required. I will carry a separate folder-like pouch to hold all of these at one place. Friends suggested carrying photo copies of these as well and stack them away in one of the luggage carriers, in case required due to loss of original docs. Well, I hope they are not required!
- Travel insurance – With expensive health care abroad, travel insurance is imperative. What I figured is that travel insurances offered by different companies have different clauses that I will need to check before finalizing on one. Simple logic says I will choose insurance based on activities I want to do and match it up with activities covered in the insurance. Skiing will be a key element as I want to ski at Mohawk Mountains. Most of the insurance companies offer coverage for personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss/delay of checked baggage, loss of passport, curtailment/ cancellation and much more. Companies offering travel insurance are Thomas Cook, HDFC Ergo, Tata AIG Insurance, ICICI Lombard and others.
*All images have been sourced from the internet